HOMILY FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 2017 DEACON ANDREW THOMAS
David Egan once said the following phrase:
"Let me win. and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." These words have inspired David Egan's entire family.
Nothing in David's life has ever come easy. When things got rougher, David kept pushing harder and harder.
David found his joy in competing as an athlete, entering many sports competitions. His favorite sports were soccer, basketball, and swimming. Winning didn't come all of the time, but David learned to find joy in little successes.
The hardest obstacle for David to overcome, was the reality that he has Downs Syndrome. And it was his involvement with Special Olympics that helped him cope with it. He realized that he wasn't alone, and that he too can be great.
Because of his great example, David's family too has realized the importance of doing the little things well, and giving your all regardless of the circumstances, and that if David could find joy amidst struggles, there is hope for us all.
In today’s second reading from 1 Peter, the apostle says, “Be ever ready to give a reason for this hope of yours.”
During this Easter Season, particularly, it is the victory won through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that gives us hope. We’ve been reading how the apostles preached this new hope, and performed great works and miracles in Jesus’ name.
My brothers and sisters, in our first reading today, we have Phillip the Evangelist, otherwise known as Phillip the Deacon. He was one of the six deacons of the early church, ordained in Acts, chapter six, along with the first martyr, St. Stephen, to minister to the Hellenists, or the Greek-speaking Jews. Because of Alexander the Great's large empire, many Jews in Palestine were Greek, and these men were able to preach and minister to them.
This is not Phillip the apostle, who introduced the apostle, "Nathaniel," more commonly called "Bartholomew" to Jesus in John 1:43. This is not the apostle who was asked by Jesus that loaded question in John 6:5, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" This is not the Phillip who died for his faith in Antioch, or modern day Turkey around 80 a.d.
After receiving baptism, and the laying on of hands by the apostles, Phillip the Evangelist, or Phillip the Deacon, preached throughout Samaria, working wonders just as Peter and John were doing. Jews didn't like Samaritans because they seemed to mix paganism with their Jewish beliefs, and so Phillip cast out many demons, proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, cured many people and many converted and were baptized by him. In other words, And he gave them a reason for this great hope of his.
His miracles were so astounding, that Simon the magician, converted and received baptism and renounced his former way of life.
He gave the Ethiopian Eunuch later on in Acts a reason for hope, by explaining to him the Sacred Scriptures, where the coming of Jesus is foreshadowed in Isaiah 53.
One of the greatest saints of our church, is St. Therese of Lisieux, commonly known as "The Little Flower." She found hope in a path to holiness known as "the little way." The little way is simply doing the little tasks and deeds put in front of us as well as possible and with great love for Jesus.
Many, early on dismissed the cause for St. Therese's canonization, because she did not work any great miracles in her life, like Phillip the Evangelist did. She had no apparitions from Jesus or the Blessed Mother. She did not engage in ecstatic experiences of contemplation like her foundress and namesake, St. Teresa of Avila.
She identified rather with her lowliness before God, and felt that because she was too small to reach up to Him, He in His mercy, would reach down and lift her up to Himself.
St. Therese said the following: "Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love of which we do them."
When watching sports we can be enthralled by the dunks of Lebron James, or the pinpoint passing of Tom Brady, but isn't the beauty of the sport, the friendly competition, giving our very best to the game.
Isn't the beauty of an elementary school band recital, the accomplishment of learning to read music and play an instrument to the best of one's ability, giving the child hope to continue improving in the future.
David Egan found that his hard work and dedication in sports, and those little successes, gave him great hope, and were enough to motivate him in his career as a distribution clerk at Booz Allen Hamilton, a position he's proudly held since 1998.
Really, the mistakes we make with regard to our fascinations and obsessions, involves focusing more on the hope on earth of receiving power, as opposed to what Jesus preached: a hope of heaven through daily sacrifices of love.
Jesus says in today's Gospel, "Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." That's a reason for hope.
And how do we show our love to Jesus: by obeying his commandments to the best of our ability, and with great love.
And so what should give us hope.....is being able to crack a smile at one of your enemies, going completely against your feelings.
What should give us hope.....is cooking dinner for your family with great love, despite a grueling 12 hour day of work.
What should give us hope.....is continuing to be the care taker for your father who spent his life explaining to you who you are, and now no longer remembers who you are.
What should give us hope.....is being able to humbly accept that we cannot obey God's commandments on our own, and that we need the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Catholic Church, to strengthen us and guide us through this confusing secular world.
What should give us hope.....is God's willing and loving forgiveness when we break those commandments.
For the greatest miracle that Jesus performed was not the multiplication of the loaves, the healing of the blind, Bartimaeus, or even the raising of Lazarus from death to life.
The greatest miracle that Jesus performed was allowing Himself to die, choosing to remain powerless, regardless of the taunts and jeerings of so many, so that we too can have the hope of entering into eternal life.
We should all be content with those little successes that most people will never know about, those little acts of love. For those acts of love go a long way.
He was not out to prove Himself to anyone. What mattered, was the Father's will. We too should not attempt to prove ourselves to anyone.
Because our hope is not in ourselves, but in Jesus Christ.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!